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UK soldier loses appeal over objection to service in Iraq war

A British soldier has lost his appeal of a conviction for going absent without leave after he objected to serving in Iraq based on religious grounds. The UK High Court ruled Thursday that Mohisin Khan, a leading aircraftsman in the Royal Air Force, was required to show his objections formally, rather than simply stating his opposition to serving. Khan, a Muslim reservist who was called up prior to the invasion of Iraq, had claimed his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated. The court wrote:

Where, however, as here, the basic background is one of volunteer service, the call-out is on a basis that there may be exemption on compassionate grounds, the recalled reservist is given repeated opportunities to voice any concerns, as a former serviceman he is familiar or at any rate required to be familiar with the Queen's Regulations and as a recalled serviceman he has, as is conceded, access to those Regulations and to the Leaflet, we do not think that it makes sense to say that the appellant has manifested his belief until he has informed his service of it, and has done so in a formal way. ... In effect, a volunteer cannot say that his conscience or religion has been interfered with by the state until he has made it clear in some appropriate and suitably formal way that he is no longer a volunteer.
Read the full opinion. BBC News has more.

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